pardon my french

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Dun dun dun: Last day in Paris. I wanted to take it easy and get some energy back in my body for the upcoming days in London, so I just went to the neighborhood around the Opera for some shopping, although I was not planning on buying anything with my great USD à EU exchange rate ($100 USD got me 52 EU….umm, that is like instantly losing HALF your money or being taxed 50%. Boo.) Any-who: I ended up getting a few things and just having a relaxed day. Nothing too exciting to write about…unless you wanted to know I got some sweet over-the-knee wool socks to sport this winter.  

Being the 4-day Paris resident that I now am, I would like to share some things I learned while being there. Not centered around photos, this one.  Paris does a heck of a job branding itself as the destination of all destinations and while the sights are worth the hype…you wont find me raving about the people walking the streets.

If you are French, lived in Paris, or are obsessed with the FR way of life, than move on. BUT considering I am pra-rettty sure I have no readers outa France, I will speak my mind. You hear a heck-of-a lot about “the French people” and what they are like; but I like to make decisions for myself so I thought I would wait to pass judgment on the Parisians. It just so happens that the things I heard all along were true…to my knowledge and experience.

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Friendly is not an adjective I would particularly choose to use about the French. I am no shy girl and I am proud to call the red-white&-blue home, but there were times when I was al little hesitant to claim my American heritage. Reason being, the people sure make you feel bad for not being French. Walk down the streets and you wont see many smiles – just straight faces and don’t bother to think they will switch over to English once your accent. Luckily I am able to read a map and metro diagram because the one time I asked for help, a man refused to speak any English and would not offer up any advice. Oh why thank you kind sir.

Sidenote: I did learn on my walking tour that the French have a court made up of men whose sole purpose is to keep the French language strong and any presence of an English word out of their vocab. They spent 3 months deliberating if the iPod should be a masculine or feminine word in the French language. Now THAT’S a good use of tax dollars. So, yes, it is cool that they remain true to their roots but hey, it don’t expect to be winning an international award for Tourist Friendly citizens.

Holy Smokes. A white stick commonly known as a cigarette is something I saw all too much of in Paris. Smoking in the states has a pretty negative stigma (well, I think it does) but oh-no, not in Paris. Even on my walk to the metro this morning…I saw a boy who couldn’t have been over 13 smoking on his way to school. Maybe they are paid so high to be able to keep up with their smoking habit. Just a gander.

I’ll take the white bread baguette. Oh wait, there is no other option. I leave Paris with about 17 white bread baguettes in my stomach. Literally…breakfast, lunch and dinner this is the main option and while i didn’t mind it all too terribly, I am pretty sure I would get darn sick of that as my only carb choice. I thought it was cute how everyone was walking home on the streets with a baguette in a bag in hand…but a girl could go for some variety at times.

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Guess who. My favorite game growing up and also a fun thing to do while walking the streets of a foreign city. It’s a little game I play: where are they from? I am getting pretty darn good at it and can guess many of them right especially the American guys. Haha. Cargo shorts, tee shirt, baseball cap. When the Euro guys are stepping out in their leather pointed shoes and silk scarves – its really not all that hard to play. Either way, try it some time. See if you can beat my 78% rate.

No really, it IS a small world. Oddly enough I have randomly met a baker’s dozen of Seattlites abroad. What are the odds. Thanks to my “Seattle Children’s Hospital” swishy runners backpack I sport on my daily city walks – I have gotten, “Are you from Seattle?” way more than I expected. Stood in line with a Seattle couple in Amsterdam, who also was carrying a Seattle Children’s briefcase (good job branding S.C.H). Met a girl in the bathroom at Espresso House with a Swede father & Seattleite mother living in Lund. Heard an American accented family on the Paris metro and – viola – a Seattle family now residing in Paris. And now, today, I was chatting up the old British man at the fruit stand and – yep – he lived in Seattle for 25 years, and on Ballard Ave! Just goes to show…when you’re friendly & not always in a hurry…you may just meet some great people.

And ….wait for ityes, I stopped in to Starbucks (for the first time yet on my trip, ok?) grabbed a “Paris” thermos and was aided by a French speaking man when the barista had no idea what “foam” was. He spotted my backpack and asked the question. He was from Seattle too! A recent swim team UW grad from Bellevue, living and working in Paris for 3 months now. We started to talk and not having a schedule –decided to stay and talk for a bit. It was: 1) Great to speak English. 2) Great to hang with a Seattleite 3) Great to go for fika – although the Americano was not particularly wonderful. An hour and a half later we were on our way after a fun conversation about travel, Seattle, Sweden, Madrid and the People of PARIS. He is not too fond of living in Paris and is moving on as soon as an opportunity arises.

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Hostil-tality. At home we call it hospitality, but in Paris – I call it Hostil-tality because the service is not exactly welcoming. If you are in the service industry, isn’t that your job…to serve? I can see why they are so hostile though, I mean Paris is like 62% tourists and I know I’d get a bit grumpy is my home had the same percentage…but STILL. A little example might be nice. So I was perfectly on time for my Eurostar train ride to London this morning but after waiting to see a platform be assigned to the London destination, I figured out Eurostar is separate from normal trains, Long story short: I had 3 minutes and everyone working at the gates let me know just how foolish I was for cutting it that close. The passport check guy laughed in my face, refused to speak in English, asked me to give the same American smile as in my passport picture, had a few chuckles with his colleagues and took his sweet time. The next lady harshly yelled at me for not filling out a register card, gave a good amount of lip about the blank UK address (umm, hello, I don’t live there) and said to me, “ma’am, like I know the streets of London.” The next ticket man said I already missed the train…but oh haha, he was just kidding – funny joke. PHEW. Made it on the train and now come to find out I lost my iPod shuffle in my shuffle to the train. Darn.

Call it a rant. Call it a rave. Call it the truth. I loved Paris but I am sure happy that my next stop is a land of ENGLISH speakers. At least in Sweden they were happy to show their English skills. Yes, I know, I was in their country but like I said, I wont be mailing France a international award for Tourist Friendly citizens. 

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And with all that said…I close the door on France.

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~ by Andria on October 1, 2009.

One Response to “pardon my french”

  1. Thanks for sharing, Love the pics!

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